Local City To Vote on Waterwheel Project

Mr. Trash Wheel, one of Baltimore's waterwheels | Image by smereka

The City of Fort Worth will soon vote to approve a collaborative effort that would advance the Trinity River Waterwheel Initiative, which, if approved, will be the first in the State of Texas and the sixth worldwide.

The project aims to install a “floating, waterwheel-powered trash interceptor” in the Clear Fork Trinity River. The waterwheel is designed to capture litter and refuse using the natural rise and fall of the river.

Officials say that the waterwheel will be the greatest benefit during “medium and high rainfall events,” during which refuse is typically drawn into the river.

“Locating a waterwheel in the Trinity River promotes a clean river at the end of the system, and it raises awareness of anti-littering behaviors, litter source control, and the value of our water resources,” said the city in a press release released Wednesday. “It will provide an educational opportunity and visual reminder of the community’s efforts to combat litter in the community and supports responsible watershed management.”

The press release details that the waterwheel will be able to capture 50,000 pounds of refuse, identified as “floatables,” per day, collecting it in reusable containers. City leaders believe the adoption of the wheel will improve the “aesthetics and usability” of the river as well as the local ecosystem.

According to the press release, existing waterwheels around the world, particularly the four in Baltimore’s inner harbor in Maryland, demonstrate the effectiveness of such contraptions. The waterwheel is expected to provide more than two decades of use.

“Controlling litter sources remains the best defense against litter in the environment — stopping litter before it starts. Community efforts to abate litter before it enters storm drains and waterways is [sic] also an important part of the solution,” reads the press release.

The Tarrant Regional Water District (TRWD) board has already approved the collaboration with the city. The Fort Worth City Council will vote on the agreement during its meeting on November 14.

The City of Fort Worth and the TRWD will each contribute $350,000 towards the project’s capital costs, which will add to the approximately $600,000 in private donations that have been made. The two entities will split the upkeep costs 50/50.

Construction is expected to be completed in summer 2024.

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